Some core 49ers players are beginning to turn on coach Jim Harbaugh, Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
It’s the latest layer to what’s becoming an increasingly substantial power struggle.
Widespread reports of a rift between Harbaugh and top 49ers brass — specifically GM Trent Baalke — surfaced last week after the Browns proposed a blockbuster trade for Harbaugh.
The rift seems to be rooted in control. Unlike some other top coaches, Harbaugh doesn’t have final say in player-personnel moves (who the team drafts, signs in free agency, etc.). Baalke makes those moves.
Over his three years as coach, Harbaugh has repeatedly talked publicly about the personnel moves that team was planning on making, only to have those statements contradicted by Baalke.
The two men are now barely on speaking terms, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.
On Monday, Killion reported that the coach and the players are clashing as well:
“And from what I’ve been told, the tension isn’t just upstairs in the building. One source with inside knowledge of the team says that Harbaugh’s act has worn thin in the locker room, particularly among some key ‘face of the 49ers’ type players. While the team is winning, that’s not a problem. But a few losses could expose a widening rift.”
The strange part of all of this is that the various rifts in the organisation have deepened over a period of extraordinary on-field success.
Harbaugh is 41-14-1 in his three years as 49ers coach, including two NFC Championship Game appearances and one Super Bowl trip. No team has been more successful over that period.
For whatever personality clashes are going on behind closed doors, the set-up has been effective.
The big question is what happens now that the rift has gone public? And can these tenuous relationships survive even the slightest bit of on-field adversity next year?
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